It’s easy for me to excuse homophobia in older generations. It’s like, they’re from a time when being blatantly homophobic was okay, so what they say really has very little effect on me. They tend to come from little tight knit communities, where they only really knew other people like themselves. It’s not easy to introduce change in conditions like that. Younger people, however, I can’t excuse.
I’m from New York City, as are all my friends. Diversity is literally all around us. Turn a corner? Boom! Diversity. Yet, I meet homophobic twenty-somethings on a regular basis. I don’t understand. We have access to the internet, the news, the public. How can a person meet people who are different from them literally every day, and still develop biases? Familial beliefs aren’t an excuse. My family is super homophobic and is yet learning how not to be because we live in New York City, and they’ve realized that people are people and deserve the same rights that they do.
Over the summer, I got the chance to hang out with an old buddy of mine from High School. We quickly got into a heated debate about my sexuality because he thought it was okay to tell not only me, but members of my family, that I am not gay, but instead bisexual (which isn’t true btw). This was not only misleading to members of my family, but it also undermined all my hard work to get them to understand and accept my non-attraction to men. When I confronted him about this, he said it was only “his opinion” based on his ‘“observation” of my behavior. He also failed to understand why he wasn’t allowed to have opinions about my sexuality or “observe” my behavior.
This is especially infuriating because he’s my age. He isn’t a bad friend, or a bad guy, and I know he cares for me as I care for him. But his overt display of homophobia was an eye-opener. I have been out as gay throughout our entire friendship. He knew before my mother did. If there was anyone I expected to understand, it was him. Yet, even after knowing me for upwards of six years, he still has a huge misconception of a fundamental thing that made me, me.
In high school, he may have had a slight expectation that we’d date due to our closeness. This probably framed the way he thought about my homosexuality, as something that might change to accommodate what he wanted, rather than something I was struggling to come to terms with myself.
I don’t think it’s unfair to say that I don’t want to be friends with someone who shares radically different ideas from me. Or in this case, with someone who seemingly wakes up every day hoping, waiting, for me to no longer be who I am. It’s okay when it’s my mother. She’s older, therefore different from me. But my friend and I are the same. The same age, same understanding of technology, same type of family, same city. His inability to accept this part of me feels more like a choice than something he was conditioned to believe.
That is the problem with homophobia in younger generations. It is a choice.
Anika Batson is a young lesbo living in New York city, working on her undergrad degree. She’s currently a full time student at John Jay College, studying forensic psychology. In her free time, she writes fanfics and books. Though she has finished works, she is not officially published yet, but she hopes to be one day.